When I was little, about 4 or 5, I guess, Reverend Walker's wife, Mrs. Walker, babysat me at the parsonage during the day while Mama was at work and my older siblings were at school. I don't remember much about it except the scent of bananas that permeated the kitchen and dining room, but Mama remembers more. She tells anecdotes about one precocious thing or another that I did that would compel Reverend Walker to declare: "this child been here before!" I don't think Reverend Walker's allusion to reincarnation betrayed his Christian belief of eternal life in the 'sweet by and by'. He meant the same as those who say of a young person whose antics or achievements belie their age, 'he/she has an old soul' or is 'ahead of their time'. It's a challenge seldom met, adequately capturing that cognitive dissonance we experience when we encounter something totally unexpected---something like Amy Winehouse.
I discovered Amy Winehouse late. All I knew about her was over-the-top makeup and hair, and a pop song with 60s retro styling called 'Rehab' that apparently was autobiographical. I assumed she was the latest entry in the lineup of anorexic-looking, self-absorbed and variously self-destructive young women who offer little more than tabloid fodder to society (think Lindsay Lohan, those twin sisters with the big eyes, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, etc.) and paid scant attention to her.
There have been few times that I have been more wrong. What came out of Amy Winehouse's mouth was so totally unexpected that I've done little more than pay attention to her since her death was reported yesterday. Her voice and range were as stunning as her lyrics revealing and her phrasing, anachronistic. It seems she lived long and hard in 27 years, suffering and battling notions and consequences of love (for 'Baby' and maybe Daddy, too) that fueled the demons that led to her demise.
In the video below, she was 23.